Home Dealers Calendar Articles Fine Art Database About AFA Login/Register
Home | Articles | Joe Kindig III: 2008 ADA Merit Award Recipient

Joe Kindig III: 2008 ADA Merit Award Recipient
2008 ADA Merit Award Recipient

by Lauren Byrne

Matisse once observed to his friend Pierre Bonnard that it took a combination of extraordinary circumstances for a man to arrive at the age of seventy and still pursue with passion what he loves. If so, it gives quite an edge to Joe Kindig III, this year's recipient of the Antiques Dealers' Association of America's annual Award of Merit. At age 84, and after sixty years in the business, he's still running Joe Kindig, Jr., and Son, the York, Pennsylvania, business his father began nearly a century ago, and he's still a regular attendee at Sotheby's and Christie's auctions. "He has a great passion for the life he leads," says Jenifer Kindig, his daughter and business partner. "He's an avid reader. Often he'll spend days reading in some field that interests him, and I'll think, Oh, he's finally slowing down. But then he'll emerge more energized than ever!" Retirement has never been in the cards, she says, because the world of antiques is "a lifestyle for him, not a career."

Joe, his daughter, Jenifer, and American Furniture editor, Luke Beckerdite.

Joe admiring his first love in collecting, one of the many Pennsylvania long rifles in his collection.

One of the last great generalists in a business that has increasingly become specialized, Joe Kindig deals in early American furniture and decorative arts, arms and armor, as well as early lighting. His breadth of knowledge and erudition have helped build many collections, including such stellar public collections as Winterthur, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was somewhat surprising then, to learn, in a recent telephone conversation with his daughter, that Joe Kindig might never have come into the business had he not been under some pressure to do so from his father, who founded the company in 1913. Joe Kindig II was a formidable character, by all accounts, and not the sort you said no to. He began his career by operating a mail order business in antiques while still at college in order to support his first love, Pennsylvania long rifles. From there he progressed into European arms and armor and later, furniture. The present Joe Kindig came into his father's business at age twenty-four, having graduated from Amherst College and spent a period in the military. Whatever his initial feelings about following in his father's footsteps, he came equipped with the perfect qualifications: curiosity, a photographic memory, and the ability to absorb prodigious amounts of information on any subject that interests him. "He's a natural at anything he pursues," his daughter says with pride. "He can recall in minute detail any piece he sees in a museum." His wide-ranging interests are reflected in his parallel career as author of such titles as The Philadelphia Chair, 1685-1785 and Artistic Ingredients of The Long Rifle, as well as a slew of magazine articles on topics as varied as perspective glass and upholstered Windsor chairs. Architecture, one of his greatest interests, has resulted in his involvement with several early building restoration projects. An example is the 1738 Wright's Ferry Mansion in Columbia, Pennsylvania, which, among other things, is noted for its exceptional pre-1750 Philadelphia furniture; a collection, says curator Meg Schaefer, that Mr. Kindig helped put together after its inception in 1978. Mr. Kindig also contributed extensively to Meg Schaefer's two-volume Wright's Ferry Mansion: The House and The Collection published in 2005. "It is a joy working with him," she says. "He has an incredible knowledge of American decorative arts."

On Saturday, April 12, Mr. Kindig and Jenifer will be present at the ADA dinner in his honor at the Philadelphia Antiques Show. But don't be surprised if he looks just a little uncomfortable during the award ceremonies. As he confided to his daughter (and she, in turn, to Antiques & Fine Art Magazine), although he's extremely flattered to be this year's ADA nominee, he's not sure it's fair that he should receive an award. He considers that living a life so rich in interest and variety is its own reward.

The ADA Award of Merit is voted on by the membership of the ADA (Antiques Dealers Association of America) and is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of American antiques. The Award of Merit dinner will be held at the Philadelphia Antiques Show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 12. It will feature cocktails and dinner followed by a variety of guest speakers and friends. The ADA Award of Merit is sponsored in part by Antiques & Fine Art Magazine, Antiques and The Arts Weekly, Flather and Perkins Insurance, The Magazine Antiques, and The New England Antiques Journal. Seating is limited; tickets are $85 per person. For additional information and reservations call the ADA at 203.259.8571 or send your request to: Antiques Dealers' Association of America, Inc., P.O. Box 529, Newtown, CT 06470-0529.

The ADA is a nonprofit trade association. Its major objective is to further professionalize the business of buying and selling antiques. Its membership is composed of antiques dealers who are dedicated to integrity, honesty, and ethical conduct in the antiques trade. All members are required to guarantee their merchandise in writing on a sales receipt that states approximate age, origin, condition, and any restoration of pieces sold.

Antiques and Fine Art is the leading site for antique collectors, designers, and enthusiasts of art and antiques. Featuring outstanding inventory for sale from top antiques & art dealers, educational articles on fine and decorative arts, and a calendar listing upcoming antiques shows and fairs.